In 2005, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) adopted a more rigorous plan for high school education. These standards were adopted to help students improve in standardized tests. The ISBE gradually implemented the plan over three years, and the students entering high school in 2008 were the first class under the fully implemented plan.

Required Classes

A school district may impose further graduation requirements on their students, but the state requires the following classes for graduation: four years of language arts, two years of writing intensive courses, three years of math (which must include Algebra I and Geometry), two years of science, two years of social studies, and one year of art, music, foreign language or vocational education. Each course must follow standards decided by the ISBE.

At a minimum, the state requires 16 credit units from each student. Each class generally counts as a single credit unit. To complete the 16 credit units for graduation, students also take required courses not listed as classes.

Required Instructional Topics

Instructional topics may be taught to students within appropriate classes, or the subject may qualify as a class by itself. Students are required to study a class of "American Patriotism, Principles of Representative Government, and Proper Use and Display of the Flag," instruction on prevention of abuse of anabolic steroids, a film on the Congressional Medal of Honor, a nine-week unit on consumer education, a semester on health education and daily physical education.

Optional Instructional Topics

Schools may require other units for students to graduate. The optional units available are Family Life, the Irish Famine, Organ/Tissue and Blood Donor and Transplantation Programs, Parenting Education, Reduction in Self-Destructive Behavior, Safety Education, Sex Education and Volunteer Service Credit Program.